Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and eBook

James Emerson Tennent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 712 pages of information about Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and.

[Footnote 1:  Mahawanso, ch. xxxii.]

[Footnote 2:  Mahawanso, ch. xxiv, xxv.]

[Footnote 3:  Mahawanso, ch. xxxii.]

[Footnote 4:  Mahawanso, ch. xxxii.]

[Footnote 5:  Another name for the Ruanwelle dagoba, which he had built.]

CHAP.  VI.

THE INFLUENCE OF BUDDHISM ON CIVILISATION.

[Sidenote:  B.C. 137.]

After the reign of Dutugaimunu there is little in the pages of the native historians to sustain interest in the story of the Singhalese monarchs.  The long line of sovereigns is divided into two distinct classes; the kings of the Maha-wanse or “superior dynasty” of the uncontaminated blood of Wijayo, who occupied the throne from his death, B.C. 505, to that of Maha Sen, A.D. 302;—­and the Sulu-wanse or “inferior race,” whose descent was less pure, but who, amidst invasions, revolutions, and decline, continued, with unsteady hand, to hold the government clown to the occupation of the island by Europeans in the beginning of the sixteenth century.

[Sidenote:  B.C. 137.]

To the great dynasty, and more especially to its earliest members, the inhabitants were indebted for the first rudiments of civilisation, for the arts of agricultural life, for an organised government, and for a system of national worship.  But neither the piety of the kings nor their munificence sufficed to conciliate the personal attachment of their subjects, or to strengthen their throne by national attachment such as would have fortified its occupant against the fatalities incident to despotism.  Of fifty-one sovereigns who formed the pure Wijayan dynasty, two were deposed by their subjects, and nineteen put to death by their successors.[1] Excepting the rare instances in which a reign was marked by some occurrence, such as an invasion and repulse of the Malabars, there is hardly a sovereign of the “Solar race” whose name is associated with a higher achievement than the erection of a dagoba or the formation of a tank, nor one whose story is enlivened by an event more exciting than the murder through which he mounted the throne or the conspiracy by which he was driven from it.[2]

[Footnote 1:  There is something very striking in the facility with which aspirants to the throne obtained the instant acquiescence of the people, so soon as assassination had put them in possession of power.  And this is the more remarkable, where the usurpers were of the lower grade, as in the instance of Subho, a gate porter, who murdered King Yasa Silo, A.D. 60, and reigned for six years (Mahaw. ch. xxxv. p. 218).  A carpenter, and a carrier of fire-wood, were each accepted in succession as sovereigns, A.D. 47; whilst the “great dynasty” was still in the plenitude of its popularity.  The mystery is perhaps referable to the dominant necessity of securing tranquillity at any cost, in the state

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Ceylon; an Account of the Island Physical, Historical, and from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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